Abstract:Analyzes th。e po。em `Because I Could Not Stop fo。r Death,' by Emily Dickinson. The us。e of remembered images of the past to c。larify infinite conceptions through the establishment of a dialectical relationship be。tween reality and imagin。ation, the known and the unknown; T。he viewpoint of eternity; Understanding of the incomprehensible; Th。e stages of existence.
DICKINSON'S BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH
In "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" (J712), Emily Dicki。nson uses remembered images of the。 past to clarify i。nfinite co。nceptions through the establishment of a dialectical relationship between reality and imagination, the known and the unkn。own. By viewing this rel。ationship holistically and hierarch。i。cally ordering the stages of life to include death and etern。ity, Dickinson s。uggests the interconnec。ted and mutually determined nature of the fi。nite and infinite.
From the viewpoint of eternity, the speaker recalls。 experiences that happened on earth centur。ies ago. In her recollection, she attempts to ident。ify the eternal world by its relationship to temporal standards, as s。he states。 that "Centuries" (21) in eternity are "sh。orter than the。 [earthly] day" (22). Likewise,。 by anthropomorphizing Death as a kind and civil gentleman, the speaker particularizes Death's characteristics with favorabl。e connotations.  Similarly, the finite and infinit。e are amalgamated in the fourth stanza:
The。 Dew。s drew。 quivering and chill-- For only Gossamer, my Gown--My Tippett--only Tulle--(14-16)
In these lines the speaker's temporal existence, which allows her to quiver as she is chi。lled by the。 "Dew," merges with the spiritual。 universe, as the speaker is attired in a "Gown" and cape or "Tippet," made respectively of "Gossamer," a cobweb, and "Tulle," a kind of thin, open net-temporal coverings that suggest transparent, spiritual qualities.
Understanding the incomprehensible often depends on an appre。ciation of the progression of the stages of existence. By recalling specific stages of life on earth, t。he speaker not only settles her temporal past but also view。s these happenings from a。 higher awareness, both literally and figuratively. In a literal sense, for example, as the carriage gains altitud。e to make its he。avenly approach, a house seems as "A Swelling of the Gro。und" (18). Figuratively the poem may symbolize t。he three stages of life: "School, where Children strove" (9) may。 represent c。hildhood; "Field。s of Gazing Grain" (11),。 maturity; and "Setting Sun" (12) old age. V。iewing the progr。essio。n of these stages-life, to death, to eternity-as a continuum invests these is。olated, often incomprehen。sib。le e。vents with meaning. From her eternal perspective, the speaker comprehends th。at life, like the "Horses Heads" (23), leads "toward Eternity" (24).
Throu。gh her bo。undless amalgamation an。d progressive ordering of the temporal world with the spiritual univers。e, Dickinson dialectically shapes meaning from the limitati。ons of life, allowing the reader momen。tarily to glimpse a universe in which the seemingly distinct and discontinuous s。tages of existence are holistically implicated and purpos。e。d.。
[1.] Others who hav。e。 written on Emily Dickinson's responses to。 death include Ruth Miller (The Poetry of Emily Dickinson [Middletown, Conn.: We。sl。eyan U P, 1968]); Robert Weisbuch Emily Dickinson's Poetry [Chi。cago, 111.: U of Chicago P, 1975]); Carol An。ne Taylor ("Kierkegaard and the Ironic Voices of Emi。ly Dickinson ," Jo。urn。al of English and Germ。an Philology 77 : 569-81); Charles Anderson ( Emily Dickinson's P。oetry: Stairway of Surprise [New York:。 Holt, Reinhart, 196。0]); Sharon Cameron (Ly。ric Time (Baltimore: John Hopkins U P, 1979]); Brita Lindberg-Seyersted (The Voice of the Poet: Aspects of Style in the Poetry o。f Emily Dickinson [。Cambridge: Harvard U P, 1968]).
[2.] The theor。etical foundatio。n for aspects of th。is argument re。sts in part on the philosophies of such me